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Poker has captivated the world, with a long-standing reputation as one of the biggest games. It’s easy to see why: it’s strategic but accessible and is undoubtedly helped by its striking imagery in movies and television. That accessibility allows casual players and industry veterans to find their space at the felt table. This is new compared to other games like chess or go, which can have incredibly high skill ceilings that scare amateur players away. Finally, even if you can’t physically participate in a live game, almost everyone has access to an online version thanks to technological advances. All these reasons make poker one of the most popular hobbies and professions today—so much so that it seems here for the long run regardless of trends or competitors.

There’s no doubt that poker has an immense appeal due to its strategic depth, with players always having something new to learn. Nonetheless, those beginning their poker career can find this complexity somewhat daunting and may eventually run into the inevitable mistakes, whether they’re inexcusable. Such common oversights are part of learning poker, so you shouldn’t worry. This poker guide will cover two widespread and infamous mistakes often nicknamed “cardinal sins”: Limping and Slow playing.

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What is limping?

Limping in poker is a strategy that is usually looked down upon by more experienced players. It is when players call the big blind instead of raising or folding. There are two types of limp, open and over-limping. Open-limping is worse by far, as open-limping means calling as the first player to act after the blinds are posted. Over-limping is when you call after one or more players have already done so. It’s not as bad as open-limping and can even be considered good in specific scenarios.

Why is limping frowned upon?

Limping in poker is frowned upon by experienced players because it is far too passive. More players get to enter the pot without a big raise scaring them off, which is terrible for you. Pots with more than two players involved are known as multiway pots and are inherently volatile and more difficult to win since there’s a higher chance at least one person has a monster hand. Limping also does not have any of the benefits aggressively raising has, like the information you get seeing how a player responds to a raise. It also doesn’t give you a chance to win the pot outright.

When does limping work?

Limping in poker is often seen as a grave mistake. However, there are some circumstances when it can be very beneficial to your game. When you hold a drawing hand like suited connectors, over-limping is an easy, noncommittal play that gives you a chance at seeing a cheap flop. Open-limping, however, generally remains unused.

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What is slow playing?

Slow playing in poker is a strategy where a player chooses not to bet or raise and instead checks or calls, even with a firm hand. It is a deceptive play to allow many opponents into the pot, then trick them into betting and building the pot up for you to claim at the showdown. Loose players are willing to play more hands, even those considered mediocre like the 98s. Passive and aggressive describe your betting style. Passive players prefer to check and call, while aggressive players frequently bet and raise.

Why should you refrain from slow playing?

Many newer poker players think slow play is a great idea, which is why the mistake is so widespread. It may sound good on paper, but it never works out that way in practice. The goal of slow play is to build a big pot and then win it at the showdown, but it fails at both. Slow playing results in smaller pots on average because it relies on other people betting for you. If everyone checks along with you, you’ll have no bets to call, and the pot will remain small.

This also makes it harder for you to win at the showdown as intended. By slow playing, you allow people to enter the pot and create multiway pots, which, as mentioned before, are volatile and challenging to win with just a decent hand. Slow playing also does nothing to stop people from seeing the following rounds, which could be devastating if your opponents have drawing hands. This could lead to you getting outdrawn and beaten even with a premium hand pre-flop like pocket aces.

When should you slow play?

Slow play can be a powerful tool against loose-aggressive players, who are often unpredictable and tricky to handle. In certain situations, slow playing is the right move as these types of players will frequently bluff and can be caught off guard when you call, trapping their bets in the pot. While this is a sound strategy, most of the time, be careful not to overuse it. Loose-aggressive players often understand poker strategy and will notice if you slow play too frequently.

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Practice with online poker!

In conclusion, limping and slow play can be helpful in the right situations, but they can quickly lead to disaster if misused. It’s essential to practice more to understand when they might be beneficial and when it’s best to stay away from them. Additionally, with the abundance of online poker games available, finding ways to practice and hone this skill could not be easier. Recognizing opportunities for specific maneuvers like limping and slow play is a critical skill for high-level poker games. Now is the time to get ahead and learn how to maximize your potential in both casual games and tournaments.

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